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Opinion
Friday Aug 07 2020
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Joe Biden, don’t pick Kamala Harris as VP

Joe Biden has admitted that four black women are under consideration as well. Photo: File

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is ready to finalize his pick for vice president (VP).

A long list has now been trimmed. The running mate will most definitely be a woman. Considering that 50% of the U.S. population is female, Biden’s decision is a step in the right direction.

The presidential hopeful must announce his candidate before the Democratic National Convention on August 17. In the backdrop of racial tensions in the United States, some VP runners have withdrawn their candidacy in favour of women of colour.

And Biden has admitted that four black women are under consideration as well.

However, in Wilmington, Carolina, Biden went a step further. A photographer caught the name of Senator Kamala Devi Harris scrawled on top of his notepad. Biden’s notes underscored that he does not hold grudges and that Harris campaigned with him and Jill, was talented and he had great respect for her.

These were the pros. But what about the cons of having Harris on board?

During her own bid as Democratic presidential hopeful, Harris had made hurtful remarks about Joe Biden. In one televised debate, she said that although she did not believe Biden was racist, but “it was hurtful to hear you [Biden] talk about the reputation of two U.S. Senators who built their reputation and career on the segregation of race in this country.” She further added: “There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was abused to school every day, and that little girl was me.”

Harris knew that her statement was a pure mischaracterisation of Biden and a point-scoring attempt. It became even clearer soon after her campaign abruptly ended when she endorsed Biden rather than any other candidate.

It is also important to ask why President Donald J. Trump supported Kamala Harris’ candidacy?

Republican Senator Tom Cotton tweeted last year that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris “are helpfully reminding Americans that the Democrats were the party of slavery, secession and segregation.” So, by picking Harris, Biden shouldn’t unnecessarily put himself under the screw.

There is no doubt that Kamala Harris is talented. She and her family are a success story for the lower middle class to follow. But it would make sense to appoint her to another position rather than name her VP.

After the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by four white policemen, one state after another is changing from Red to Blue. Mississippi, which had been electing Republicans since 1976, has even changed its racist flag.

Lady luck is now with Biden. While earlier, his candidacy was not on a strong footing. Back in April, last year, the Democrat-leaning New York Times had endorsed Amy Klobuchar and left-leaning Elizabeth Warren. The paper had in fact described Biden as the symbol of the status quo and questioned his age, urging him to pass the torch to a new generation of political leaders.

In fact, in reality, till last year there were slim chances of a Democrat winning the 2020 polls. But then came the pandemic. It crumbled the financial structure. With 4,771,236 confirmed coronavirus cases, as of August 4, and 156,807 deaths, the U.S. economy has lost its magical power.

Coming back to Harris, a resignation letter from Kelly Mehlenbacher, the operation director of her campaign, says it all. Mehlenbacher had previously served in two presidential campaigns, including Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House in 2016.

Of Harris’ campaign, Mehlenbacher wrote: “I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly. It is not acceptable to me that we encouraged people to move from Washington D.C. to Baltimore only to lay them off with no notice.”

“We do not have a real plan to win,” she added.

No one better than Biden knows that picking a VP actually means choosing a president. Race matters, yes, but what matters even more is trust and leadership. This is what America needs, and so does the world.